Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Synonyms List for the Electronic Medical Record Search Engine (EMERSE)

Technology #7323

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Emerse Synonym Listing - Commercial, Non-Profit and Academic use License
David Hanauer
Managed By
Drew Bennett
Associate Director - Software Licensing 734-615-4004
Supporting information retrieval from electronic health records: A report of University of Michigan’s nine-year experience in developing and using the Electronic Medical Record Search Engine (EMERSE)
Journal of Biomedical Informatics Volume 55, June 2015, Pages 290–300, 2015

The widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) has improved patient care delivery in the US. The benefits of EHRs has yet to be fully realized for numerous reasons, one of the largest reasons is the continued popularity of free-text documentation, where clinicians input free-text comments and information. Although coding systems exist for various medical terminology, clinicians have been shown to still resort to free-text input since it offers them a chance to express their thoughts in a flexible manner and is needed for more complex tasks, such as clinical trials. This uncovers a need for an information retrieval system in a clinical setting for free-text entries. The Electronic Medical Record Search Engine (EMERSE) is a web-based and full-text medical search engine currently being used at Michigan Medicine (formerly, University of Michigan Health System) that is adapted for variation in the wording and phrasing within clinical documents, for example a “heart attack” is also known as “myocardial infarction”. The disclosed technology is a large text file that plugs into EMERSE (or other medical search engine tools) that consists of concept mappings that has been manually curated to help with concept matching and synonym expansion helping users find the information they are looking for.


  • Used within the EMERSE Application
  • Any application that requires matching/expanding concepts that are likely to appear in the medical record


  • Easy to use
  • Easy to extend database
  • Easy to read